True Hoops

True Hoops

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Case study: Kemba's step back

Watch and learn
While Kemba Walker has a plethora of moves to choose from, there is one in particular that he has mastered. That is the step-back jump-shot.

Google/Youtube "Kemba Walker jumper" and you'll be hard pressed to find anything other than this:

But Kemba has drawn from this well on multiple occasions. Even in more important/less hilarious situations.

Most recently Kemba used the step-back to hit what was ultimately the deciding bucket in Uconn's win over Arizona in the Elite 8. Go to the 1:57 mark in the video below to see what Kemba did in response to Arizona cutting the lead to 63-60:

Needles to say, the step back jumper is an incredible weapon to have.
There are numerous variations to it and it can be preceded by so many moves.
Let's use the two plays above to highlight some of the keys.

The set-up
In the game against Pitt, Kemba uses his cross-over dribble to set up his step-back.
In the game against Arizona, Kemba uses his in-and-out dribble to set it up.
The resulting effect is similar in both situations: defenders having to react to Kemba's initial move and therefore playing catch-up. 

This is key to setting up the step-back. 
The goal is to have your defender chasing you and then to use their momentum against them.
You can really do anything: hesitation and go, between the legs, between the legs then cross-over. But really, less is more.

As the defender chases you, using all their energy to recover, you then change directions by pushing off with your lead foot to step back into your jump-shot. As all the defender's momentum is geared towards your initial move, it becomes extremely difficult to react to your secondary move going in the opposite direction. In essence, the defender has to fight against themselves to recover.

Speed and space
The amount of space that you can create varies, which is dependent on how your defender reacts and  how fast you execute this move.

Against Pitt, Kemba creates an enormous amount of space, as his defender falls, and therefore waits till he has fully completed his move to go up and shoot. In this instance he actually can take his time to properly set himself up for his shot (Look at how straight he is in the picture at the top).

Against Arizona, his defender is able to close the gap quicker, having stayed on his feet, and actually contests the shot somewhat. In this case, Kemba has to get his shot off quicker, and therefore executes the move faster.  Additionally, he has to fade away a bit on his shot. 

Although not pictured here, you can actually shoot the ball while stepping back. This doesn't allow your defender to recover as you come to a stop and in essence simulates a fade-away jumper.

This also plays a role in how much space you create.
Notice in both cases above Kemba is moving from the right side of the court to the left.
For right handed shooters, which Kemba is, it is easier stepping back to their left.
Vice versa for left handed shooters.
This is simply because of mechanics and the way your body is set-up after stepping back 
(see below).

But there is a subtle difference, which makes the Pitt move a little more effective.
Against Pitt, Kemba is going north and south (to and away from the basket). 
Haven't you ever heard a coach say this is the best way to make moves?

By initially going in the direction of the basket after his crossover, Kemba actually goes almost 180 degrees in the opposite direction with his step back. The result is disasterous for his defender and allows Kemba to create a maximum amount of space.

Against Arizona, Kemba never really gets the defender on his hip to place his shoulders ahead of him. Thus he never really goes towards the basket. Instead of going forward then stepping back, Kemba is moving to the side, right to left, and then stepping back.

Therefore the defender doesn't have to change direction in 180 degrees.
This allows the defender to stay on his feet.
Still, the defender is chasing Kemba off the initial in-and-out move and still has to change direction by approximately 90 degrees after Kemba's step-back. This allows Kemba to create space, even if it is minimal.

The mechanics
At some point when you dribble with one hand, your opposite foot comes forward. 
Thus when you dribble with your left hand, your right foot comes forward.
If this isn't the case off your initial dribble, then it is certainly the case after your second dribble and are moving with the ball - either north to south, or side to side

Also consider, when you have a defender guarding you while dribbling, you naturally want to protect the ball with your off hand/opposite side of your body (if the ball is in your left hand, you are protecting it with your right hand/side of the body).

Combining both cases, when right handed shooters are dribbling with their left hand, it places their strong hand/shooting hand closer to the basket. It also places their right foot closer to the basket, putting them physically in a position that favors them shooting the ball (If you are a right handed shooter, try shooting the ball with the left side of your body closer to the basket - not such a good look).

Now take a look at the play against Pitt.
The slow motion highlight is priceless in it's instructional value.
Look at the position of Kemba's body after his cross-over. With the ball in his left hand, going to his left, the right side of his upper body (shoulder and hand) is closer to the basket.

Also notice how his right foot is closer to the basket.
Now notice how he jabs his foot into the floor and uses it to push off and step back in the opposite direction. More so, he leans his entire body into that jab to create more energy for the push off. Kemba actually "jumps" back into his shot.

What is great is that even though he changes directions, his body still stays in an alignment that favors him shooting the ball - having his right hand and shoulder slightly in front.

This is perfection.

When creating more space and having more time to shoot, as in the Pitt case, the straighter you can make your body towards the basket after your step-back.

When creating less space and having less time to shoot, as in the Arizona case, the more pronounced the right side of your boy is to the basket.

In either event, you are in a position ready to shoot the ball.

Player application
The best part about this move, is that it can be used by all types of players. 

"Slower" players can create for themselves with this move by relying on their skills and being crafty with  their dribble (i.e. having a good set-up move). Additionally changing speeds, off hesitations, and utilizing on the ball screens is really helpful to set-up the step-back.

"Faster" players are a nightmare to guard with this move because the defender is always chasing while trying to keep up. "Fast" players actually have to use less of their dribble and more of the blow by. 

Kemba happens to be both fast and skilled with the ball. And this is what separates him from most.

Many players, especially at the division I college level and above, are talented, fast, and athletic.
But the step-back jumper is an acquired skill. It has the potential, along with other skill sets, to separate great players from good players, superstars from stars, and ultimately wins from losses.

Momo Jones, the starting point guard on Arizona, might have said it best himself when comparing his game to Kemba (friend and high school teammate) before their match-up in the elite 8:

"Kemba is more herky-jerky with the ball," Jones said. "He's got more of a bounce to his step. I'm more powerful. I can get past the defender, so I just try to keep it simple."

Momo is essentially saying he relies more on his natural strength and speed while Kemba has more skills/moves with the ball.

So, let's add one more to the list above of what a step-back jumper can separate: 
final four from elite 8.

Skill can compete with talent.
Skill + talent will beat talent.

Kemba has both.
Now imagine him coming off a screen.
Good luck with that.

Appropriate usage
This move can be used in various game situations.
In the Pitt game, Kemba uses the step-back in an isolation play to take the last shot.
In the Arizona game, Kemba uses it seamlessly after coming directly off a screen and meeting Derrick Williams on a switch. And it was still a crucial play.

And that is the beauty of this move.
It can be premeditated or it can be instinctual.
It can be deliberately ostentatious or it can be in rhythm.
You dig what I mean?
You can use it to create a gap or you can use it to create a inch.
It is simply a means to getting your shot off in any situation.

I now have a question for those of you that have read this far (that means YOU)

Who was the first person you have seen utilize the step-back jumper?

Believe it or not I'm gonna say Latrell Sprewell, when he was with the Golden State Warriors.  
Maybe there were others before him that I don't remember. But for me personally, Sprewell was the first one I saw using this move (in the mid-90's) and tried to emulate. 

The step back jumper has been very influential and heavily utilized in my game.

What about now? Who utilizes the step-back jumper most efficiently in their game?
The first person that comes to the top of my head is Paul Pierce.
So effective. 
Remember what he did to Amar'e and the Knicks at the garden earlier this year?
Do you think it's a coincidence that he is such a clutch player and always gets his shot off?

Hopefully we'll get to see Kemba use his step-back in the final four and championship game.
After that, hopefully we'll then see him use it for years to come in the NBA.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Final Statement

Last laugh

Let me say that as of completion of the final four last Sunday I was laughing my head off.
Butler, Uconn, VCU, and Kentucky. 

I was receiving a lot of heat and ribbing for the Big East flopping in the first two rounds and only getting 2/11 teams into the sweet 16.

Well, let's put things into perspective......
There are only two major conferences left in college basketball right now.
The Big East is one of them.
ACC? Nope.
Big Ten? Nope.
Big Twelve? Nope.
Pac 10? Nope.
What about the Mountain West, with San Diego St. and BYU being ranked in the top 10 all year? Nope.

At least WE got one of our teams in.
I bet that G'town loss to VCU is looking like a 'quality' loss right about now.
Maybe even that Pitt loss to Butler isn't so bad.

I will admit, maybe it really isn't that fair to credit the Big East. Maybe this is more of a function of what Uconn has, rather than what the Big East has.
After all, Uconn has what no other team in the country has going for them: Kemba Walker.

There is no mistaking that he has been the best player in the tournament this year, and perhaps the best player in the country all year long.

His tournament stats: 26.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.3 rebound per game on 44% shooting.
Keep in mind he has increasingly been facing double and even triple teams.

Think about this: Uconn has won 9 games in a row - all elimination games.
Including the Maui invitational in the beginning of the year, Uconn is 12-0 in elimination games.

Of course Uconn has a good team (I love when Charles Barkely calls players he likes a "stud." One of the benefits of hearing him comment on NCAA tournament games is to hear him say: "Jeremy Lamb is a flat out stud").

But a major reason for their record is two fold: 
1) kemba Walker has been the best player on the floor 
2) Kemba Walker has been the best closer in every one of those games.

In a pressure situation when Uconn NEEDS a score Kemba delivers. 
How is he able to consistently deliver?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Oy vey!
Look at my brackets!

My how the mighty Big East has fallen.....and taken my college credibility with them.
It just goes to show you, Biased opinions are most likely not that accurate.
Did you know that Yahoo! sports has "second chance tourney pick 'em," which is essentially for people like me who always stay faithful to their under graduate school's conference.

I'm not going down that road again.
But what I will do, before the madness continues later tonight, is go over what I have liked and disliked in the NCAA tournament leading up to the sweet 16.

Coverage of the NCAA tournament.
Way to go and finally use multiple channels (CBS, TNT, Tru, & TBS) to show four games, in their entirety, all at once.

Now "the problem is choice," as in choosing which game to watch. Still, this is much better than watching only one channel and hoping that it shows the game you are interested in. It also helps when you can flip from one good game to another, especially during time-outs, and keep the ball rolling.

I am also a big fan of the NBA crew/analysts commentating and discussing games.
It is always fascinating to hear a professional opine on their craft. It makes it even better when they are discussing amateurs that are aspiring to someday join their ranks.

Renaming of the first "three" rounds.
This is a little picky, but is it really necessary to now call the round of 64 "round 2" and the round of 32, (which used to be round 2) "round 3." And to do this all because we now have 68 teams to start and are calling the first 4 play-in games "round 1."

I am confused just by writing about it.
Why not just call the first 4 play-in games......"play-in" games?
I'm sure it would not have altered the confidence levels of VCU if they were called a play-in team. I'm sure they still would have made their run to "round 4" (aka the original round 3, aka the sweet 16).

If anything,  why not come up with more clever names, like "the sexy 68," and "the Nintendo 64?"

Anything you can do I can do better.
The stars are shinning. As in Jimmer Fredette and Kemba walker are doing their thing.
I just hope that the stars are aligning. As in Jimmer Fredette and Kemba walker meet up to play each other in the tournament.

It seems as if they are trying to top each other with their performances.
Kemba had 18 points, 12 assists in their win over Bucknell.
Jimmer followed by scoring over 30 points.

Jimmer again had over 30 points in their win over Gonzaga.
Kemba followed with 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

What will they do this week?

The legend/mythology certainly grew for Jimmer when game announcers last week mentioned he "used to play against prisoners" in upstate New York when he was in high school. That will get him ready for the pros.

He is also gaining more and more fans. if you go to the comments section of my "Player pick 'em" post, comparing Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette, one of my friends said he would go with Kemba, because "he is a tiger."
After Jimmer's performances last weekend I asked this same friend, "Is Jimmer a tiger?"
His response: "Jimmer is a Liger." (Look it up).

The Big East.
Talk about throwing a dud.
A record setting 11 teams in the tournament.....and only two make it out of the first weekend?!

I can understand teams like G'town and Villanova exiting early, they were struggling coming in.
I can understand St. John's losing, they lost one of their top players to injury and were totally over-matched by Gonzaga.

But what about teams like Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Louisville? For ALL of them to bow out this early?! I had Notre Dame winning it!
Although, I suppose it wasn't so bad for coach Rick Pitino, who had a gig with CBS commenting on games a day after his team lost.

You can also say that two Big east teams lost to other Big East teams, so maybe really four teams could have made it. But then again, you can always say that if the two Big east teams that are in the sweet 16 didn't play other Big East teams to get there.....then maybe they would have lost too.

5 teams seeded 8 or higher in the sweet 16.
The tournament is really set up for these types of outcomes, and it seems like it happens more and more every year. Remember George Mason in the final four?  Davidson in the Elite 8 and one shot away from the final four? Bulter in the championship last year and one shot away from winning it all?

There is so much parity in college basketball right now that I'm not sure if there really are any upsets, especially in a one game to advance situation. Of course there are always big time programs that make it through. But it's great that the air of invincibility in college basketball is fading.

Think about this: to get to the final four, Kanas will have to beat No.12 Richmond and then either No.10 Florida St. or No.11 VCU

All I can say is GO VCU!!!

What I hope to see:

UCONN vs. Duke
Please let this happen. I would love to see Kemba take apart Duke to get to the final four. Maybe even do battle with Kyrie Irving.
Would it be sufficient to get one Big East team in the final four?

Marquette in the final four
Wouldn't it be something if after all is said and done, the Big East still got two teams into the final four?
I know I'm dreaming......

So, Ohio St. vs. North Carolina.
Two power houses. Plus it would be interesting to see UNC respond to Michael Jordan promising the team anything they want from team Jordan if they make the final four.

VCU in the final four
Why not?
No one would have picked them.

UCONN vs. BYU in the championship game
Kemba vs. Jimmer.
Enough said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who is holding me?

I have always felt Kobe Bryant is one of the best bad-shot makers, if not the best, of all time.

The degree of difficulty on many of his shots over the years have been off the charts, sometimes unnecessarily so. But hey, he makes a lot of them in pressure situations and its not like opposing teams are going to make it easy for him.

Kobe for sure has to be the best at willing his shots to go in. whether it be over, or perhaps even through his defenders.

Take the other night for instance:

Did you get a chance to see the look of exasperation on Brandon Roy's face? What more could he do? (By the way, how is he even playing after coming off of surgery this year to implant cartilage into both of his knees?)

Roy was in Kobe's body the whole way, forcing him to a corner fade away jumper going to his right (harder for right handed players). And he had a hand in his face.

That was great defense.

Sometimes great offense beats great defense.
It would have been interesting to see that play with a taller defender on Kobe.

Kobe makes these types of shots all the time. That doesn't make this one any less special. But what made this shot extra-special was Kobe's antics afterward....

I have this joke with a friend of mine. When someone makes a big play and shows no emotion afterwards, we say: "like he does it on the reg" (reg = regular, i.e. on a regular basis). Normally when a player is used to making these types of shots/plays - it's nothing new to them and therefore they don't have to go crazy. Depending on the context, showing little to no emotion after a big play can be hilarious (after dunking on someone) or reverential (Jordan's championship winner at Utah in '98).
Only novices put on dramatic performances.

Kobe is certainly not a newbie when it comes to being a closer, so why all the fireworks?
Why all the explicitness? (care to guess what he was saying?)
What's with all the trying to rip his shirt off? Is this the WWF?
For goodness sake hide the children.

For Kobe, I prefer the Snarl look

For Kobe, I prefer the black mamba the Black Mamba.
A look when he knows he is so cool and such a bad ass that there is no need to get demonstrative because it is known he going to save the day no matter what.
In the fact, the day has already been saved.

Sometimes you say more when you say less.

Mind you, this recent display is coming after the show he put on in south beach by taking jumpers for 90 minutes on the Heat's court right after the Lakers lost to the Heat.

Is this a symptom of his advancing age? Is kobe losing it?
Is Kobe too intense?

Or......or......Ah Chaaah!!!

Maybe this isn't the time to be cool.
Is going over the top like this the way he is getting the best out of his team?  The Lakers are 11-1 since the break. If seen in this light, maybe it's not so bad, especially when considering Jordan sometimes punched his teammates to get the best out of them.

Or...... perhaps this is the way he is making himself better. Or I should say keeping himself great and therefore potentially becoming greater. Maybe this is how he is staying motivated, or more practically, how he is playing through the wear and tear in his body after enduring 15 seasons in the league.
How can we argue with the results?
You think Brandon Roy would argue with them?

I have heard Kobe say in an interview: "I want to be considered an overachiever." "I want people to say that I squeezed every last drop of juice out of this orange."

And that is just it. How much juice does Kobe have left? If we define a player's basketball prime years according to the Jordan standard (a universally accepted metric system) - then it is from age 28-32 (there are always exceptions to the rule). Kobe is 32 and therefore theoretically in the  last year of his basketball prime.

This may be his last best chance to win another championship.
Kobe knows the Heat is coming, both literally and figuratively.

And this is what I LOVE about what he is doing.

I have also heard Kobe recently say: "the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter." "Retirement isn't around the corner...but it's down the block."

Kobe knows this. He sees it. He senses it.
So in response Kobe is going ALL IN.
If this is it, then he is going ALL out giving EVERYTHING he has, holding nothing back.
It may be a sports cliche, but how many times does it really happen?

How many of us can say we have the balls to do that?

Kobe is saying F-it.
He has waited 15 years to earn the right to get to this point. He has waited his whole career, his whole life for this moment. This prime moment.

Kobe is playing the game by himself both mentally and historically.
This is about legacy.

He has already caught Magic, now he is trying to catch Mike.
This is his passion, his dream, his goal. His moment for history.
If loving the Lord is wrong, he don't want to be right.

Who are we to judge him for that?

Kobe, you're almost there homie. Keep pushing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Bully

Remember that 21 year old kid over the summer that started for team USA and helped them win a gold medal at the wold championships?

Remember that kid who more and more people where starting to feel will ultimately be better than LeBron?

Remember the NBA GMs picking a kid from that USA team to win MVP this year in the pre-season?

Well they were almost right, they just picked the wrong kid.
Kevin who?

Do we really have to have a discussion as to whether or not Derrick Rose is the NBA MVP?
Do we really?

I am from New York. I was a big Knicks fan in the 90's, which by default meant I was going against the Bulls. But even I will admit, this kid is hands down the MVP.

What he and his team have done thus far this season is nothing short of amazing.
The Bulls are currently tied for the best record in the east, second best record in the NBA.
They have already won more games than all of last season.
25 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds a game.
He's played significant stretches without Carlos Boozer and/or Joakim Noah.
Heck, he's the only all-star on his team.
The Celtics and Heat have four and three all-stars, respectively.

I believe that makes him the MVP by default.

Before the All-Star break, I would have picked LeBron, because the Heat were tied for best in the east and the Cavs were really that bad.
The only other player I would maybe consider now is Dirk, because without him the Mavs couldn't win and with him they seemingly can't lose.
The Spurs, Celtics, and Lakers are all too deep to have an MVP.

Really the only question now is who will finish second in voting.

Well, I guess another question is...
How is Rose this good?
Does he shoot exceptionally well? I don't think so.
Does he pass exceptionally well? I don't think so.
Is his ball handling that exceptional? He's not that flashy.
Is he just that much faster than everyone else? More than likely.

I guess we didn't know how truthful Adiddas was when they told us "fast don't lie"
(as opposed to team Jordan's "quick can't be caught").

See for yourself in the Bulls recent loss to the Pacers the other night (and you thought the pacers could only beat the Knicks):

And think, he should still be playing with memphis in the NCAA tournament right now.
If and when he wins the MVP, he will be the youngest in NBA history to do so. 

And everyone has jumped on the band wagon. I can't tell you how many blogs are out there about him being the MVP. That's fine. But even Michael Jordan  is campaigning for Rose.
(no wonder he came up with that similar catch phrase).

I know we all see it now, but did anyone see this before?
How did he leap frog over Kevin Durant?
Did anyone see this coming, this...
As's recent "Race to the MVP"  piece pointed out (Speed wins the race), he would be the first player in 38 years to win the MVP award without receiving one vote the previous year.

Hind sight is 20-20. We can all see that.
But I suppose the only one that can see fast forward is Rose himself, as evidenced by a SLAM pre-season cover...

I hope, for the sake of New York, he doesn't also see another Bulls dynasty.
Here we go again...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It takes 4 to tango

I'm going to put myself out there right now.
Having never watched a majority of teams play this year, here are my Final Four predictions:

I am going to say that I am probably the only one out there that has these picks. And by the end of tonight, we'll know if they are still viable.

You'll say to me: "what if you're wrong"...

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. You'll put me in jail and throw away the key.
But if I'm right....if I'm right...... Lenny....

EAST bracket: Ohio St.
I have never see them play this year, but they have been ranked in the top 5 seemingly throughout the season. They also seem to have one of the top players in the country, Jared Sullinger (I've never seen him play either).

There is usually one bracket every year that plays out according to seeding. I'm going with this one. Ohio St. over North Carolina in the Elite 8...just because.

Here is where we get non-canonical...

WEST bracket: UCONN
This can go either way. I really wouldn't be shocked if they lose in the first round to Bucknell. That is the 'trap' game. There is a tendency sometimes for Big East tournament champion teams to bow out early. This is most likely due to them depleting enormous amounts of resources to win their conference crown. 5 games in 5 nights can do that.

However, they have Kemba walker.

With that said, if they get by Bucknell, I think they handle Cincy and San Diego State. 
I know San Diego was able to finally figure out the one man team BYU (Jimmer) in the MWC title game. 
But UCONN has more depth.

A potential match-up with Duke in the elite 8 should be fun. They have had two classic match-ups in the past and I wouldn't expect this to be different. Still, I think the Huskies may just have the Blue Devils number.

SOUTHWEST bracket: Notre Dame
I HAVE seen these guys play. And let me tell you, they are impressive. 

They have the Big East player of the year, Ben Hansbrough, who averages 18.5 points per game and shoots a better percentage than Jimmer Fredette. They also have a lot of weapons beyond him: at least 3 knockdown shooters, at least 3 excellent ball handlers (including their center), a bruiser, and they are long.

Furthermore they don't have you're typical 1 dimensional type of shooter, we're talking about guys that get to the cup and finish - as some poor guy on Louisville found out the hard way.

My concern with them is perhaps lack of interior size. Kansas is big.
But if these guy get it rolling from out. 
Plus they got their bad loss out of the way in the Big East semi's against Louisville.

SOUTHEAST bracket: St. John's
What? You expected me NOT to go with the home team?
There is also always one bracket where a team no expects makes it through.
So why not us?
Our first time in the tournament since 2002, but really our first time being a threat since 2000.
They have shown they can compete and beat the best.

Let me tell you, there is really an opportunity for these guys.
I know they lost an important piece in D.J. Kennedy, but I'm thinking they'll rally around him and step up.
10 Big East seniors. 
Having upperclassmen is good recipe for making a run in the tournament.
They also have a big-time player in Dwight hardy.
If they play with confidence and NYC swag, then it is on.

Some people say they will go down tonight against Gonzaga.
This is payback time. 
If the Johnnies play aggressive and dictate the tempo, it will be in our favor.
We lost in 2000 to Gonzaga because we didn't enough depth and height. This year is different.

I think they then handle Jimmer and BYU in the 2nd round.
Next I have them beating an always gritty Michigan St. team in a potential ugly sweet 16 match-up. 
(I have Michigan St. beating Florida in the second round - my brother always tells me well-coached Tom Izzo teams are poised to make a run).

And then Pittsburgh in the elite 8? 
For some reason Pitt never does well in the tournament, even though they get decent seeds. Maybe this is the year they change that. Or maybe this is the year they let another Big East team beat them and get to the final four on a last second shot.
St. John's beat them earlier in the year at the Garden. They can do it again. 

There has been an amazing resurgence in NYC basketball this year.
No time to stop now.

Besides, when it comes to dancing....
As the late great GURU of Gang Starr said:
"you know your pops told you watch them New York boys..."

The Storm is coming!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Player pick 'em

Jimmer or Kemba?

I will readily admit that I don't really watch college basketball before March. Hence this being my first college basketball related post. However, once the madness is here I get hooked like everyone else. 

As we all fill out our brackets and pick which teams we think will advance in the tournament, I have another decision for you to make.

Who would you pick between Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker?
Since these guys have been the two premier college players this season, I suppose the context of the question is relevant in a decision of this magnitude.


Who had the most impressive performance during championship week?
Jimmer: 52 vs. New Mexico (MWC semi-final)
Kemba: 33, 12 rebounds, 6 steals, & 5 assists vs. Syracuse (Big East semi-final).

As I say to my friends on many occasions: “50 is 50.”
Dropping 52 points in a game is amazing, not to mention on 23 of 37 shooting. 
How much stamina do you need to get up that many shots? 

Think about this, Kemba had 33 in an overtime game. Jimmer had 33 at the half!

What made this performance that more impressive was that BYU had lost to New Mexico twice earlier in the season. It seems as if Jimmer literally put a cape and the entire team on his back and decided that they weren’t going to lose – even if it meant doing all the scoring.

And let’s just say, those didn’t look like easy shots he was making.

I still wouldn’t discount Kemba’s game, which was against 11th ranked Syracuse at the time. But what do you think Jimmer would have done against the Orange's 2-3 zone?
Could he have scored more than 52?

Kemba clearly had the better all-around game, but Jimmer put on a show.

Advantage: Jimmer

Who had the best championship week?
This is a no brainer.

If you look at the picture above, Jimmer is holding up his thumb while Kemba is holding up a piece of net from Madison Square Garden.

You do the math.

No wait, on second thought, let me. 
5 wins in 5 days – the first team in history to do so.
4 wins in a row against ranked opponents.
130 - the most points by one player in Big East tournament history (26 points per game).
Big East tournament most outstanding player

Jimmer only played in three games. While his numbers were certainly outstanding (35 points per game), they didn’t take home the chip.

You want to talk about putting a team on your back? It doesn’t get much better than the mettle kemba displayed last week at the world’s most famous arena. And dig this, when asked if his team could have played a 6th day in a row to win the championship, Kemba responded: “If we had to.”

Advantage: Kemba

Who will lead their team further in the NCAA tournament?
Both aren't strangers to success in the big dance.
Last year Jimmer had 37 in a double overtime opening round victory over Florida.
Two years ago as a freshman, Kemba had 23 points and 5 assists in the west regional final to lead UCONN to the Final Four.

The tournament would certainly benefit from having BOTH of them in it for as long as possible.
Is it possible we can see them match-up in the final four?
Possible, but not likely.

I won't even try to hide my big east/ St. John’s alumni bias.
You have to know that I am picking St. John’s over BYU in the second round. 
How about a possible Dwight Hardy vs. Jimmer Fredette match-up? 
I would love to see what Jimmer does against a big east team. 
Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see it, because it would be fun. 

With that said, I have BYU making a second round exit.

On the other hand, UCONN can definitely get to at least the sweet 16, having a potential second round match-up with a familiar conference foe in Cincinnati. I'm gonna go ahead and say that UCONN has found a way to master the Big East and therefore will be able to handle Cincy.

Ironically, they would then match-up with San Diego State – BYU’s rival this season.

Having BYU face the Big East and UCONN face the Mountain West tournament champions would prove to be an informative comparison between these two. Although in fairness, it would probably say more about the strength of their respective teams - in which I think UCONN is deeper.

If it comes down to who does better against the big east in the second round – I’m going to go with the Big East champs.

Advantage: Kemba

Who is the better scorer?
Well, it seems like it would have to be Jimmer by default.
He is averaging 28.5 points a game this season, while Kemba is at 23.5.

Still, both have similar efficiency: Jimmer is shooting 46% from the floor, Kemba 43%
And you might argue that playing in the Big East is tougher, having to face bigger and more athletic defenders. Therefore, the scoring averages may have to be normalized according to strength of conference.

Out of curiosity, how do you think Jimmer would do against a Louisville press?
That press and pressure defense was able to throw off Big East player of the year Ben Hansborough (similar game to Jimmer?) in the Big East tournament semi-finals.

They held Kemba to 'only' 19 points in the Big East championship game.
Although it was the back end of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back quintuple header.
It's just a hypothetical question.

Still, it’s not like opposing teams aren’t setting up their defensive schemes to stop Jimmer. And it’s not like he doesn’t face a lot of doubles teams.

And I would have to say that Jimmer is definitely the better shooter: 40% on three-pointers compared to 34% for Kemba.

It also helps your cause when Kevin Durant, leading scorer in the NBA the past two years, tweets: "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world."

Advantage: Jimmer

Who is the better at creating their own shot?
BYU fans like to taunt opponents by letting them know that they have been “Jimmered” whenever he does them dirty by dropping 30 in their face.

I have never really seen Jimmer take an un-contested shot. It seems he has to resort to one of three options:
1) dribble down the court and pull-up from 35-40 feet
2) cross his defender over multiple times to gain enough time and space to pull up
3) hesitate then blow by his defender (who was waiting for the jumper) to pull up for a mid-range running floater/jumper

Not bad options at all. High degree of difficulty, but he shoots at a high percentage.

Well if Jimmer... “Jimmers” opponents, then they need to make up a phrase for what Kemba did to that poor Pittsburgh defender in the quarter-finals of the Big East championship. (shame on Pittsburg for leaving their big man out on an island like that to get exposed in from of the entire nation.)
Throw on top of that the fact that it was a game winner as time expired.

I’m not sure if "he got kemba-ed" will suffice, but it’s a good start.

Additionally, in the limited time I've seen Jimmer play, I've never seen him get all the way to the basket. Kemba, on the other had, can. He had several impressive lay-ups in the Big East tournament. 

His most impressive drive came with under a minute to go in the Big East championship game. Down one with around 40 seconds to go, he got by two defenders all the way to the basket.  When contested at the rim, he threw a wrap around pass to an open teammate for the lead and eventual championship. 


Kemba has several game winners this season.
Isn’t being able to create and make your own shot in a pressure situation what it’s all about? 
I don’t think anyone has done that more this year than Kemba.

Advantage: Kemba

Who's game will translate better at the professional level?
First of all, I said professional because if any of these two went over-seas to play, they would destroy. As shooters/scorers, they would fit in quite well.

In the NBA, it’s a little trickier. Both of these guys will have to learn to play the point guard position, or be relegated to a seldom used small '2' guard.

Jimmer is 6’2”, 195 ibs. 
He seems big and strong enough to make a quicker transition.
It also helps that his range is “in the building.”

I once heard him compare his own game to that of Deron Williams (let me add, he did so in a humble manner). He mentioned that he is similar to Williams in being a bigger point and that he tries to emulate Williams' game by using his crossover to create for himself.
I can see that.

There might be a tendency to compare Jimmer to a JJ. Reddick or a Adam Morrison - both prolific scorers in college but not so in the NBA. That is a false analogy. Jimmer is more than just a shooter. He has to handle the ball all the time and create for himself. He always seems to get his shot off.
Shooting off the dribble will be key if he wants to be more than a role player in the NBA. But it seems like Jimmer has that down.

Even if he doesn't pan out to be a Deron Williams, I think he can become a Stephen Curry type player.
Both came out of small schools, both can shoot, and both are probably good passers because of how well they shoot. Curry just won a gold medal with the USA team in the world championships this past summer. If anything, Jimmer is probably bigger and stronger than Curry. 

Kemba is listed at 6'1", 172 ibs.
Yeah, I don't know about that. In fact, I don't know if he's even 6'0".
And this is my concern with regards to his NBA career.

Of course he can be successful. Think about Nate Robinson, Will Bynum, and Earl Boykins. All are fast and come off the bench to provide a spark for their teams. They are also pests on defense. 
But while there is no doubt they are all great pieces to a team, are they indispensable?

Does he have the skill set to be more of a Chris Paul type point? I don't know.
Perhaps more realistically, maybe he can be another Ty lawson type of pro - and that's not bad.

You know who Kemba reminds me of? 
Ben Gordon. 
Gordon had a great career at UCONN, winning a Big East Championship AND a national championship.
Similar games. Both the size of a point guard, but both not really point guards. 
Both were great scorers and very crafty. Both from NYC.
I would say Gordon was a better shooter and had better ball handling skills coming out.
Walker is faster and more tenacious.

In the NBA, Gordon has had a good career - winning the 6th man award as a rookie and having a great series against Boston a couple for years ago in the playoffs. But he never made the transition to playing the point and has yet to develop into a star.
Can Kemba do better than that?

Really, what it all comes down to for both of these players is if they are fortunate enough to go to a system that caters to their specific skill set. 
Sometimes it's as simple as that. 
Will they be drafted by teams that will give them enough playing time? 
Allow them to play to their strengths? 
Give them enough opportunities to develop?
Or, will they go to a winning team that puts them in a position to be successful?

Some say Jimmer is a liability on the defensive end because of a lack of quickness. I don't buy that. And even if I did, you can say the same thing about Kemba due to his size.

I personally feel Jimmer will learn the point better, is a better shooter with more range, and will be better coming off screen and rolls. 
I also think he can be more of a constant weapon, rather than a situational kind of player. Although I suppose he can always resort to being a specialist.

Advantage: Jimmer

Who would you pick for your team?
Ah man, this is tough.
What team are we talking about? NBA lottery? NCAA? Over-seas? Dyckman park?

My brain says Jimmer, but my heart says Kemba.
If it comes down to a head to head match up, how can you discount a kid with heart from the Bronx?
Although Jimmer is also from New York.

Advantage: I'm going to cop out and say you can't go wrong with either.

Like with all of the questions above, the answer is subjective.
It just depends who you ask...

A New Mexico defender?

"Jimmer, I love you!"

Or the former leader of the free world?

(Southern drawl) "Have you ever considered a cabinet position?"
" want me to come to the Duke game?"